By Umaid Wasim – DAWN
KARACHI, Nov 23: Muslim FC went top of the Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) after being awarded a contentious injury-time penalty which gave them a 1-0 win over Habib Bank Limited (HBL) here on Saturday.
The victory helped Muslim FC overtake the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) at the summit. The Chaman-based outfit have 33 points from 18 games — a one-point lead over the KESC who have played four games less.
The manner of their victory, however, left HBL head coach Yousuf Khan fuming.
“The players had done a fantastic job in keeping them at bay for ninety minutes,” Yousuf told Dawn after the match at the KMC Stadium. “But then the referee [Irshad-ul-Haq] made a poor judgment which meant we lost a point.”
Yousuf added that he would appeal to the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) about the standard of refereeing in the league.
“Sometimes decisions change matches and I’ll definitely write that down in the managers’ report of the game. We are in the relegation zone and we can ill-afford such decisions which cost us points.”
Sources told Dawn that even match commissioner Shakoor Baloch admitted that the referee had made a grave error.A minute into the injury-time, Muslim FC appealed for an apparent hand-ball inside the box and Irshad immediately pointed to the spot.
Hayatullah dispatched the ensuing penalty.
HBL’s defeat left them on 18 points from 18 games, level on points with the Pak-Afghan Clearing Agency (PACA), who have played 17, and the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), who have played 16. PACA beat the NBP 1-0 on Friday.
Leading the trio on goal-difference are two-time defending champions Khan Research Laboratories (KRL).
KRL notched up their fifth victory in eight games of the season so far when they overcame Pakistan Navy 1-0 in the other PPFL match played on Saturday.
Ace striker Kaleemullah scored the winner almost a quarter of an hour before the end in a feisty encounter at the KPT Stadium.
“It was a good match,” KRL head-coach Tariq Lutfi told Dawn after the match. “It’s always nice to get all three points but we could’ve eased our nerves if we’d converted a few of our chances in the first-half.”
Lutfi added that his side’s next match against NBP was crucial if they wanted to continue moving up the table.
“Now we can’t afford to drop points,” he said. “I hope the players carry on in the next match from where they left off today.”
Victory in that game will help KRL move up to 21 points, level with Pakistan Air Force (PAF) who hammered Baloch FC 4-1 on Friday.